Find a Job

Do you understand the strategies to find a job? Are you ready? You are going to need an updated resume, a winning cover letter, and in some situations a portfolio of samples of work. You will also need to know how to use your contacts to tap into that hidden job market. This section will provide you with information and activities to really make you stand out and be organized in your job search.

You’ll learn:

Finding and getting a job relies on your ability to get an employer’s attention. Employers expect you to know job search strategies and how to represent yourself. To be successful you need to be clear about what you want to do, know what your skills are, and know your job search target.

You can use the Job Search Target (pdf) to write down the occupations you are interested and qualified to do, the industries you are interested in, and any employers that you are interested in working for.

Track the activities you do for your job search. Use the Organizational Tools (pdf) to keep you organized. Use the Job Search Log (pdf) to keep track of the jobs you apply for.

Use the Job Search Checklist (pdf) to keep track of each step. 

Learn about the Hiring Process

Each employer has a unique hiring process. Below are four steps that most employers use. It is important for every job seeker to do well at each step.  

1. The employer looks for the right people for their job opening.
  • Many start by looking at their own employees. They may ask for referrals from employees and others they know. This is called networking. You will learn more about networking later in this section.
  • Employers might consider people that they have met or know in the industry.
  • Employers might advertise the job. They may advertise on websites or online job boards.
  • Employers may work with a recruiter or agency. They may go to job fairs.
  • Employers also ask applicants to send resumes and cover letters to the company.
2. The employer screens the applications.
Often times, there are many people who apply for one job. The employer takes out the ones who aren't a good match. People may not have the right skills or experience. Or they don't do a good job describing how they are a good fit for the job. Then, the employer may call a candidate on the phone to ask them questions. Or they have people come in for an interview.
3. The employer sets up interviews with people who seem to fit their needs.
At the interview, the employer asks people about their skills and background. They are also looking to see if people will fit with their company. They look for things like a "can do" attitude, and people who can get along with others. They also want people who like to learn and work hard. Interviews give the job seeker an opportunity to interview the employer as well- you want to make sure that this job is a good fit.
4. The employer makes an offer to a selected applicant.
The employer chooses the person they want to hire and offers them the job. If they accept the job then it is time to discuss the salary and benefits. This is called negotiation. This agreement has to benefit both parties. Sometimes the salary and benefits are not negotiable, but other things like the probation period and the work schedule are negotiable. A job seeker can walk away from an offer if it is not good for him or her.  

Market Yourself

It is very important that you can show that you are a good fit for a job. Sometimes the person who gets a job may not be the most skilled candidate for that position, but they may have been good at promoting themselves. Here are some tips to help you market yourself.

Create your “30 second commercial.”

You have 30 seconds to talk about yourself to a potential employer. You want this person to know your job target and why you’re a good fit. Practice your speech with people who can give you feedback. Do they understand what kind of job you’re looking for? Do they understand why you would be good at it?

Example of a 30 second commercial:

 Use the 30 Second Commercial (pdf) to create your own.

Create your "elevator speech."

People who hire are very busy. So are people who can help you find a job. You’ll be more effective if you can explain your job search targets. An elevator speech can be a good tool to use.

Directions: Think about being in an elevator. You have one minute to talk about yourself to a potential employer. You want this person to know your job target and why you’re a good fit. Practice your speech with people who can give you feedback. Do they understand what kind of job you’re looking for? Do they understand why you’d be good at it?

Examples of elevator speeches:

Use the Create your "elevator speech" (pdf) to create your own. 

Get the Most out of a Job Fair

Another way to increase your network, make contacts with employers and other professionals, gather information about potential employers, develop and refine interviewing skills, and secure interviewing opportunities is to attend a local job fair. Be sure to prepare for a job fair by using the tips below.

  • Pre-register for the event if possible. This will allow you to view online details about the fair and employers ahead of time.
  • Dress as if you are going on an interview, because you are!
  • Arrive early.
  • Obtain an employer listing and floor layout of the companies present at the fair to plan the day and save time.
  • Prioritize employers with whom you wish to visit. Research your top choices in advance. This should be no more than ten companies in order to allow time to meet with all of them.
  • Greet with a firm handshake, strong eye contact and a smile.
  • Make sure to have plenty of copies of your résumé readily available.
  • Ask for employers’ business cards and company materials.
  • Record notes on your conversations with employers.
  • When at the fair, practice your approach on 2 or 3 companies that are not high on your list. This will help you get comfortable and prepared to tackle the ones you want to impress the most.
  • Use your Elevator Speech and be sure to discuss schools, affiliations, and when appropriate volunteer/hobby activities as these all can be discussion points that help the individual remember you more than what your job title is.
  • Speak to them about your talents and that you are trying to get in the industry – ask for advice/recommendations. Rule of thumb: Don’t ask questions that have YES or NO answers because it limits conversations.
  • If you said you would follow-up with the interviewer, do it!

Here is a listing of local and national sites that provide job fairs in Texas. 

What to Put in Your Portfolio

A portfolio of your work can show employers your accomplishments. You may include samples of work and school projects. You can put these samples in a binder. Some people like to put their samples online. You can bring your portfolio to job interviews.

What to Put in Your Portfolio
If you are a: You could include:
  • Photographs of your work
Chef or baker
  • Photographs of food or meals you've made
  • Recipes you created
  • Letters of recommendation from past supervisors
Computer programmer or multimedia specialist
  • Screenshots of your programs
  • Printout of the computer code you wrote
  • Letters of recommendation from past supervisors
Dancer, actor, or musician
  • Video of your performances
  • Audio recordings of your work
Fashion designer or tailor
  • Pictures of the clothing you produced
  • Wear your own creations on the job interview
Office support staff
  • Brochures for projects you helped plan
  • Reports
  • Newsletters you organized
  • Spreadsheets
  • Other examples of work that you completed
  • Letters of recommendation from past supervisors
Writer or journalist
  • Copies of published articles
  • Printouts of your writing from websites
  • Video of your news stories

Build Your Network

Did you know that most job openings are not advertised? It's true — most employers have enough applicants without advertising. They often prefer to find employees from people they trust. This network of referrals is the "hidden job market." You can tap into this network by getting to know people who can help you. 

Use the Your Network (pdf) to organize everyone that is in your network. 

Tips for Building Your Network
Ask for information.
  • You can ask about the occupation. You can also ask about industries or employers.
  • You ask about what you want to know.
  • Be polite. Don’t be too pushy or you may turn people off.  
Be prepared to talk about yourself.
  • Make sure you’re clear about your job skills and background for your job target.
  • Have your resume ready.
Follow good networking habits.
  • Networking is about building relationships.
  • Think about ways to give something back to those who have helped you. Your contacts will be more likely to help you if you have helped them in the past.
Find people in your job target.
  • Start with friends, family members, past coworkers, and neighbors. They may know someone in your target job.
  • Tell them about your career goals and skills you have.
Send thank-you notes when people are helpful to you.
  • Always show that you appreciate their time and thank them for any information, referrals, or job leads you get.
Find a mentor.
  • This is a person who knows about the occupation you are interested in.
  • Get feedback on your job search ideas and questions.
  • Ask to shadow someone on the job.
Look into professional groups.
  • See if your job target has a professional group. Many members are eager to help job seekers. They may know employers with job openings. They can also help you stay up to date in your industry.
  • Meetup is a great place to find targeted networking groups! You can even start your own group.
Keep your key contacts informed about your efforts in the job search.
  • Your key contacts want to help you. 
  • Avoid being considered spam by sending too many emails to a large number of emails at once. Some of your contacts may not be comfortable with you sharing their contact information, and will be less likely to help you if your emails get sent to a junk folder.

Connect with People Online and in Person

One way to meet contacts using the Internet is through “social networking.” If you use them, be sure to think about your goals. Make sure what you write on these sites is well written by typing your text into a word processor (such as Microsoft Word) first. Get feedback about what you have posted. Use your 30 second commercial (pdf) or Elevator Speech (pdf). People sometimes even post their resume on these sites.

Be careful.

  • Never list your address, phone number, or bank accounts. Don’t give anyone your social security number.
  • Be positive. Don’t argue with people online. It is likely that employers will see everything you post.
  • Scammers may try to sell you training or job search assistance that should be free. 
Common Social Networking Websites
  • Many professionals use LinkedIn. They connect with others in their career field and learn about events and trends.
  • To start, create your profile. This lists your skills, career goals, and past jobs- like a virtual resume.
  • Next, connect with people you know. You can ask them to post references for you. You can find others in your field by seeing the contacts from people you know. You can ask to add them to your “connections.”
  • Find out how/if you’re connected to the places you want to work at. Use this connection as an entry point- ask for an introduction or an informational interview.
  • Research employers and even find current job postings.
  • Search for groups related to your career interests. These groups update information often. You can ask questions and get job leads in these groups.
  • Twitter sends very short messages to many people at one time.
  • You can use it to update "followers" on your career or find job leads.
  • Employers use it to tell people about job openings. They also use it to find out more about applicants.
  • Job seekers post their basic information. They may link to their resumes or blogs.
  • You can also use this to find out current news, trends, and information by following experts in your industry or companies you are targeting.
  • Facebook is a place to connect with your friends and people they know. You make connections with people who share your interests.
  • You can search for people who work at employers you’d like to learn about. You can ask to connect with them about your job search. 
  • Even if you do not plan to use Facebook for professional purposes, make sure you don’t post inappropriate or incriminating pictures, or statements that may prevent you from being considered as a good candidate for a job. Employers can still look you up.

Connect with People In-Person: Networking Resources

Following is a list of resources for finding networking events.

Find Job Openings

Employers look favorably on job seekers who know about them. They also like job seekers who know why they are a good fit. Think about the type of job you really want and go after it.

Now, spend time researching employers. How do you know which employers to research? There are two ways. One is by finding advertised job leads. The other is searching the hidden job market by using the contacts in your network. Look at each employer’s website for job openings.
Here are some ways to find job leads. Once you find job leads, make sure you research each employer. See Research Employers before you apply. Then, contact employers directly.

Find Advertised Jobs
General Career Builder
  Career One-Stop
  Houston Chronicle
Non Profit Idealist
  Find Non Profit Jobs
  Foundation Center
  Non Profit Oyster
  Opportunity Knocks
  United Way of Houston Job Bank
Government City of Houston
  Federal Jobs
  State of Texas
Self-Employment US Small Business
Work from Home FlexJobs
Niche Dice: IT
  Disaboomjobs: jobs for people with disabilities
  Retirement Jobs
  Roadtechs: engineers, technicians and skilled trades

Research and Contact Employers

Employers prefer to hire employees that already know about their industry and their company. This exercise will help you organize the information you find about your target employers.

Use Research occupations, industries, and companies (pdf)
to target your job search.

Contact Employers
Once you know a bit about your target employers, you can call them. Use your research for this call. If you feel like you have a good connection, offer to send a cover letter and resume. Use the Employer Contact Script (pdf) to help write your email. 

Tips for Calling Employers
Find a quiet place to call from. Make sure there are no distractions, and you will not be interrupted during the call.
Write down what you want to say. This is important if you are not used to calling employers. Don't read your script; your conversation should be natural.
Smile while you are talking on the phone. It makes your voice sound cheerful and relaxed.
Your outgoing voicemail message should not have music or jokes on it. Just say your name and ask the caller to leave a message.
Tell your roommates and family that employers will be calling. Ask them to take clear messages and give them to you right away.
Call back all employers who call you, even if you no longer want the job.
Return all phone calls within 24 hours.


How to E-Mail Employers
Use a simple e-mail address with your name or initials for your job search. Don't use inappropriate nicknames or jokes like ""
Start the e-mail with something of interest to the reader. Let them know right away why you are writing and how you can help their business.
Have a subject line that is clear and interesting.
At the end of your message, tell the employer you plan to follow-up. Give them another way contact you such as your phone number. If you sent the e-mail without them knowing, ask if they want you to keep in touch with them in another way.
Before sending- check for the correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
If the employer does not contact you, and you really want an interview, call them. Follow up after one week of your initial email.

Apply for Jobs

Employers ask about job seekers in several ways. Pay close attention to what the employer wants from job seekers. Make sure you send them the documents they request, which may include: a list of references, a writing sample, or a portfolio of work. Here are common documents to apply for jobs. This includes applications, resumes, and cover letters.

Job Applications
Employers often use a form to learn about each job seeker. This form is called an application. They compare the job seekers to determine who match their jobs best. Use words from the job description to show that you are a fit.

Job Application Tips

Make a rough draft. Get your references now.
Get a copy of an application (pdf) or use the one provided in this handbook. Fill in all of the fields. Make sure you know all of your past employers and the dates you worked. You’ll also need addresses and phone numbers of past employers. Get feedback on how you answer each question. Use your rough draft to fill in all of your applications. 

Follow the directions. Be honest.
Read the entire application before you start it. Pay close attention to what they ask of you. Do not write in sections where they say “do no write below this line." Also, do not write where they say “for office use only.”

Fill out applications neatly and completely, and use correct spelling and grammar.
Answer all of the questions. If one doesn’t apply to you, you can use “N/A.” This means “not applicable." This shows the employer that you did not overlook anything.  

Always list your "position desired."
This is your job search target or the title from a job lead. 

Give a range for your salary.
Employer may use this question to screen out applicants. Use a range or say “negotiable.” This leaves you room to negotiate a higher wage. 

Give positive reasons for leaving jobs.
Choose your words carefully with this question. Don't say "Fired," "Quit," "Illness," or "Personal Reasons." Instead, use reasons like: “voluntarily resigned”, “left employer voluntarily”, or “voluntarily quit.”

Write Your Resume

A resume is a communication tool. Job seekers use it to list their skills and experience. Employers use resumes to choose who to bring in for an interview.

Resumes are not a list of what you did. They list what you can do and what your major accomplishments have been. When describing work experience, start with an action verb. Do not say “responsible for.” Good resumes use skill language. List the common skills and experience that employer’s want. Again, use your occupational research to find out what employers want.

Resume Formats
A chronological resume (pdf) lists your work history starting with the most recent. This is the most common type. It is used by people who are staying in an occupation.  
A functional resume (pdf) groups your skills and experience by skill areas. These skill areas are called “functions.” It is used mostly by people who have little to no work history, and by people that are changing occupations.
A combination resume combines the other two formats. It groups your skills by function. It also lists a work history. It is used by people who are changing occupations or those returning to the workforce after a long break.  


What to Include on Your Resume
Contact information tells the employer how to reach you. It is very important for setting up interviews. Most people list their city, state, email and phone number. 
You may want to consider starting your resume with your profile section. This will include a summary statement which will show how you are a good fit for this job. You can highlight your skills and traits that make you successful.  
Education lists your degrees and classes. Include licenses or certifications.
Your work experience describes where you worked. It also describes your skills and accomplishments at each of your previous jobs.  
Your accomplishments, awards, and community service on the job or in school. Also include money that you earned or saved past companies, number of customers you helped, or other outcomes that help a business run well.

Online Resume Writing Resources

Create Cover Letters

A cover letter is a letter that you often send to the employer with your resume. The cover letter makes your resume more personal, and is targeted to a job lead and employer. This shows the employer that you read and understood the job description and gives the employer key points about why you are the right person for that job. You can view a sample cover letter template (pdf) here.

Parts of a Cover Letter

Heading and greeting
Every cover letter needs the date. List your name and how to contact you. Address the letter to a specific person when possible. Be sure to follow directions regarding subject reference. The employer may request that you reference the position you are applying for, the date the position was posted, etc.

Opening and introduction
Explain who you are and why you are writing. Tell them how you found out about the position.

Sell yourself. Reveal why you are a perfect and unique match for the position. Explain why you have chosen the employer. No more than 2 short paragraphs.

Assertive closing
Be positive. Tell them that you will contact them, and when. Thank them for their time. Be sure to follow up when you say you will.


When you apply for jobs, you will likely be asked for references. References are people who can talk about your skills and work history. Choose your references carefully. You want to list about 3 people who will say good things about you.
Here are some rules about getting and listing references.

  1. If possible, talk to your supervisor before you leave a job and ask if he/she will give you a reference. The best possible reference is a recent supervisor. If you don’t have a good one you can use past supervisors, coworkers, supervisees, volunteer managers, teachers, etc. Other nonstandard but acceptable reference providers: current/former clients, academic counselors, business partners, funders, and colleagues at another company/agency. If you have a job and don’t want your current employer to know that you are looking for a new one, ask a colleague that you can trust.
  2. References come in a variety of shapes and sizes. In order from best to worst, they are:
    a. Someone who knows you well, thinks you’re great, is interested in helping you to advance your career, and will respond quickly and cheerfully to a telephoned reference request.
    b. Someone interested in helping you to advance your career, but can’t give details over the phone for legal reasons. Ask him/her to write you a general letter of recommendation.
    c. Someone who will confirm your past employment over the phone.
    d. Someone who says they will do any of the above, and then doesn’t. Feel free to check by having a friend call them and pretend to be a prospective employer!
  3. Always tell your reference that you are listing them. Before you list any person as a reference, ask for permission. Make sure they have an updated copy of your resume, and a good idea of what kind of jobs you are applying for, and when you are scheduled to interview, so they can be prepared to answer questions well.
  4. Keeping in touch with your references periodically also helps in maintaining up to date contact information. Be sure to connect with them via LinkedIn.
  5. Bring a copy of your references to the interview. Your reference list should be separate from your resume. Make sure that you have a separate page that you can hand over upon request. This way you will have the exact contact information on hand if the application asks you to list references during the interview.

 Online Cover Letter & References Resources

Know How to Interview

Your resume and cover letter grabbed the attention of the employer and you have been asked to come in for an interview. Are you prepared to turn those interviews into job offers?

Interview Tips
Setting Up Job Interviews
  • Think about what you are going to say before you pick up the phone to call an employer.
  • You want the employer to think of you as a good future employee.
  • You will have about 20 seconds to make the employer want to meet you. Therefore, what you say has to be brief, to the point, and persuasive. 
Prepare for an Interview
  • The day before your interview, think about what types of questions the employer might ask you and prepare answers you can give in less than 2 minutes.
  • Plan your interview attire ahead of time. Map out the location and estimate travel. This will help you get organized and be less stressed the day of the interview.
  • On the day of the interview:
  • Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. You might need to fill out paperwork before the interview.
  • Go by yourself. If a friend or relative drives you, have them wait in the car.
  • Wear an outfit that is professional looking. It should fit the type of job for which you are interviewing.
  • Be cautious of wearing cologne/perfume in case your interviewer has allergies.
What to Bring to an Interview
  • Extra copies of your resume, your reference list, and if necessary a portfolio or examples of your work.
  • Papers needed to complete your application. This includes copies of work licenses, your driving record (if required), and your social security or immigration cards.
  • Questions for you to ask during the interview.  
During the Interview
  • Display confidence. Shake hands firmly, but only if a hand is offered to you first.
  • Maintain eye contact with the interviewer.
  • Let the interviewer start the conversation.
  • Listen carefully. Give honest, direct answers.
  • Accept all questions with a smile, even the hard ones. Take your time when answering the hard questions.
  • Think about your answers in your head before you talk. Make sure you stay on topic when responding to a question. If you don't understand a question, ask to hear it again or for it to be reworded. You don't have to rush, but you don't want to appear indecisive. 

Interview Preparation Activities

Do these activities before every interview – if possible, go over the questions and answers with a friend (at the very least in the mirror!), and practice your answers until they sound polished and confident (but not rehearsed!).

Practice Activities

Ten reasons why you’re the perfect person for the job
These are the key facts from your experience, skills, accomplishments and/or personality that make you a good match for the job. Try to work one of them into every answer you give – and if at the end of the interview you realize one or more of them hasn’t come up, bring it up!

Ten questions they will ask you during the interview, and your answers
Include both standard and ‘situational’ questions. Your answers should be brief, complete, and thoughtful.

Questions to ask them about the job or company
Show that you’re interested! Pretend you’re a reporter and you’re going to write a story about the company and/or job – what would you want to know? Use the Sample Questions on the next page to start your list.

Ten things to avoid doing/saying during the interview
What mistakes have you made in past interviews? What bad habits do you want to avoid displaying, or issues you want to avoid disclosing?

Online Interviewing Resources

Sample Questions to Ask the Employer During the Interview
Below is a list of questions you may consider asking during your interview. If you already know the answer to the question; either from the job description, information provided during the interview, or from your research of the company online; do NOT ask the question. If you still need clarification about anything that can be found while researching the company, be clear about where you found the information and follow it up with the question.

Preparing for Behavioral Interview Questions
(adapted from

Behavioral questions try to get at how you responded to negative situations, for example: ‘Tell me about a time where you had to resolve a customer complaint.’ The best way to prepare for behavioral questions is to have examples of negative experiences ready, but try to choose negative experiences that you made the best of or -- better yet, those that had positive outcomes.

Here's a good way to prepare for behavior-based interviews:

Situation or
Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand. This situation can be from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.
Action you took Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did -- not the efforts of the team. Don't tell what you might do, tell what you did.
Results you
What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?

Use the STAR Interview Worksheet (pdf) to write down your scenarios.

Common mistakes made during the interview that significantly reduce your chances of being offered the position.
Application form or resume is incomplete or sloppy Nervousness or lack of confidence and poise
Arriving late for the interview No genuine interest in the company or job or overemphasis on money
Didn’t ask questions about the job Overly aggressive behavior
Failure to express appreciation for interviewers time Poor personal appearance
Lack of interest and enthusiasm Responding vaguely to questions
Lack of maturity Unwillingness to accept entry-level position
Lack of planning for career; no purpose and no goals Answering your cell phone while in the office
Negative attitude about past employers Being impolite to anybody at the employer’s site or office

Follow-up after the interview.

Send a thank-you letter or note (pdf) to each person who interviewed you. Your letter should cover these main points:

If you told the interviewers that you would give them added information, make sure that you do. Keep track of when you said you would contact this employer to find out if you were hired. Don't forget to make that contact.

Be sure to check the grammar, spelling, word use and punctuation before sending the thank you note or letter. If you choose to write your letter by hand, check with a friend to verify that your handwriting is legible.

Negotiate a Job Offer

Negotiating your salary is a key part of the job search. Wait until after you get a job offer to talk about pay and benefits. Negotiating is a two-way street. People make these deals differently. Use the tips below that work for you.

Negotiating Tips
Think about the offer
  • Know what salary you can expect for the occupation by researching the average salary at
  • Think about your pay needs based on your household budget activity.
  • Try to find out what the company pays before the interview. Call the human resources office or your networking contacts.
  • Pay is only one part of job compensation. A job with low pay might have good benefits like a flexible schedule or health insurance. Think about the job offer in terms of your needs and long-term career and life goals.
  • Talk over the offer with someone you respect. Make a list of the pros and cons. 

Use good communication skills

  • If you can, do not accept a job on the spot. It's common to get a few days to think about it. Even if you know you are going to say "yes," ask for 24 hours.
  • When offered the job, make it clear if you want it. If you are not sure, say there are some items you would like to discuss before you can accept the job.
  • Listen carefully to the offer. If it is different or less than you expected, let them know that. Say you are still interested in the job if they want to reconsider their offer.
  • Ask for basic, practical benefits first. Those requests might include more money, tuition, or training. You might also ask for more vacation time, a flexible schedule, stock options, or parking privileges.
  • Negotiations should never be mean or emotional. This is a business meeting. Use your values and skills to negotiate. Do not use your need for the job to negotiate. 
Understand the rules of the game
  • Don't assume the first offer is fixed. Even if the interviewer tells you it is, it rarely is.
  • Did they offer the same pay and benefits a few days later? That's probably the final offer. When this happens, you can ask for a six-month review to look at your performance and pay. You can also turn down the job and ask that they keep you in mind for future openings. But don't burn bridges — you never know what might happen.
  • Don't say "no" as a trick to negotiate for more pay. You could lose the job forever.
  • When you accept their offer, ask them to put the pay and benefits in writing.

Job Search Resources for Special Populations

Below is a list of online resources that provide information for specific populations.

Individuals with Disabilities
State of Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitation Services (DARS)
JFS MainStreet
Career and Recovery Services
Goodwill Industries of Houston
Your Ticket to Work
Mature Workers
Jewish Family Service Employment Services
AARP Job Hunting
Department of Labor: Information for Seniors
Veteran Employment
Employment VetSuccess
GI Bill
America’s Heroes at Work
Vet Success
Career One Stop: Military Transition
Resources for Human Development: Veterans Issues
Career and Recovery Services
Workforce Solutions
Resources for Human Development: Youth Development
YMCA of Houston

Job Search Information for Ex-Offenders

Many people with criminal records have very good careers. It may be difficult to search for a job if you have a felony conviction, but it isn’t impossible.

Part of a successful life after incarceration is getting and keeping a good job. Besides getting paid, having a steady job can also give you:

There are many programs that help people reenter the workforce after a criminal conviction. One great program is the Federal Bonding Program (FBP), a program that guarantees the job honesty of “at-risk” job seekers to encourage employers to hire former offenders. To get in contact with your State Bonding Coordinator and find a One Stop near you, call1.877.US2.JOBS (1.877.872.5627). Check out the websites below to find programs and articles that can help you with your job search.

Resources for Ex-Offenders

Succeed in the Workplace

You've found a good job. Now, how do you live up to your employer's expectations? What can you do to show you deserve a raise or a promotion? Here are some tips to help you keep and succeed in your new job:

Succeed in the Workplace
Stick to your work schedule
  • Always be on time to work. Have a backup plan for transportation and child care. If you are running late, call your boss as soon as possible.
  • Don't take time off in the first few weeks. Let your new boss know you're dependable.
  • Leave and return from breaks on time. Let your supervisor know when you will be away from your workstation. 
Follow the rules at work
  • Know the company rules and policies. Pay attention to all manuals, orientations, and safety lessons. If you are not sure of a policy, ask your supervisor or human resources.
  • Follow the proper chain of command if you have a problem at work. Talk to your immediate supervisor first, unless told to do something else.
Dress appropriately
  • When you start a new job, find out what clothing looks OK and is safe to wear.
  • Always come to work clean and well groomed. Do not wear heavy perfumes or colognes. Go easy on the makeup.
  • Look like you take pride in yourself and your job.
Act professionally
  • Don't make personal phone calls or use company equipment for your own tasks.
  • Speak in a way that's appropriate for work. Don't use curse words, slang, or speak too casually to customers or your boss.
  • Never use alcohol or illegal drugs at work. You could get fired if caught. It could also keep you from being hired for other jobs.
Get along with others
  • Be a team player and help coworkers with projects. You will likely share a workspace with a co-worker, so be courteous.
  • Hang around coworkers who have good attitudes and work hard.
  • Everyone has different views of politics, religion, and cultures. Most companies have rules supporting diversity.
  • Remember: you are now a representative of the company. Everything you do reflects on your employer.